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9 Things Successful People Do When Playing Games

9 Things Successful People Do When Playing Games

Most competitive games require players to use some sort of skill to gain an edge against their opponents. Even games as simple as Go Fish or Rock, Paper, Scissors can be beaten using strategy and planning (in fact, Rock, Paper, Scissors is much more complex than you might think). Players of almost any game in human history can find a way to gain an advantage over their opponent to maximize their chances of winning. Here is how the most successful people get that done.

They project confidence

Before even becoming invested in getting good at a game, players must be confident in their abilities. I know for an absolute fact that I’ll never be a great soccer player; it might be this lack of confidence that keeps me from even trying. But, I’m definitely capable of being a winning chess or poker player, and this confidence has helped me approach both games in such a way that I don’t rely on dumb luck to win. I’ve used this confidence as a springboard to help me get even better at the cerebral games I’ve always had a knack for.

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They understand the rules

Even simple games such as Sorry! have lesser known rules that, if you know them but your opponent does not, can help you win. Using Sorry! as an example, if you pick a seven card, you are allowed to “split” your move between two pieces (one can move three spaces, and another four, for example). While it sounds pretty inconsequential, knowing this rule comes in handy when you know you have to move an exact number of spaces to get a piece into your home base. In a game like football, a defensive player must know the exact difference between a clean block and holding, or else he will never succeed at stopping the blitz without being penalized.

They study strategy

Once you have a true understanding of the rules to the game, you need to understand the strategy behind winning it. Whatever game you are getting into, there are almost unlimited resources online which you can use to your advantage (there is even a strategy to winning Guess Who?, if you can believe it). The best part about learning strategy is that all games are staggered in difficulty depending on your understanding of them. A game like chess is a perfect example. A five-year-old can learn some basic strategy to the game, like how to best protect the king from early attacks, and can use this strategy to beat players who don’t use this strategy. However, as the child grows, he will find the same strategy does not work against more seasoned players, and he will be forced to improve his own strategy in order to continue winning.

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They practice

Along with studying strategy, players must put the strategy into practice. Michael Jordan once (at least once) sunk a free throw with his eyes closed during a game. This wasn’t just something he could magically do; he obviously spent hours upon hours making sure he could make almost every single free throw he ever took. And let’s be serious: practicing free throws for hours on end could not possibly have been fun. But he perfected his shot, and that’s why we consider him the best basketball player of all time. Successful people practice every aspect of their craft until they can literally do it blindfolded.

They exercise

Along with practicing, you must exercise to train in preparation for a game. Exercising doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to the game you are preparing for, but it should strengthen something within you that will help you during play. Weight training, running, or swimming will definitely help you in an athletic event, while completing logic puzzles and problems will help expand your mind before a “mind game.” Keeping your mind and body sharp before a competition allows you to easily maintain an equilibrium, think critically, and adapt to changes in the game.

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They stay positive

The old saying is true: quitters never win, and winners never quit. It should be noted that in that saying, there is nothing about winners never losing. You will definitely face setbacks; there’s no denying that. It’s important to keep your eyes on your goal when you face a loss, or an injury, or any outside factor that inhibits your ability. Winners push past a loss or a disappointment, knowing it’s only a blip on the radar. On the other hand, a loss is not just a blip if it’s what keeps you from playing ever again; it defines you as a loser for the rest of your days.

They follow models

The most successful competitors are inspired by those who came before them. They are not only inspired by them, but are driven by them. Competitors study how their idols perform, and seek not only to emulate them, but to eventually surpass them. They learn what regimens their idols followed and what strategies they utilized, and use this information to maximize their own potential. Not only does studying professionals from the past help the competitor progress, but in doing so, helps the game evolve as well.

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They study past performances

Athletes and competitors not only study others, but themselves as well. Every good athlete studies their past performances to see what they did right, and what they did wrong. The most successful poker players analyze crucial hands that either made or lost a lot of money, to see if there’s any way they can change their play in the future. One of the reasons chess players are so successful is not simply because they’re “good at chess”; they’re good because they’ve spent hours and hours studying past moves, and because of this know exactly what to do when they get into a certain situation. Of course, it’s incredibly important to look at past performances not to beat yourself up, but to keep progressing each time you compete.

They have fun

Pros have fun, too. Why do you think they do what they do for a living? Now, this doesn’t suggest that pros just go out and have a blast; it’s a more controlled type of fun, but it’s fun nonetheless. Professionals talk about getting “in the zone,” going on a hot streak that can’t be beat. Of course, they also go through slumps (baseball players, especially). Something to note is that whenever hitters go into these week-long doldrums, getting maybe one hit every five games, their coaches ultimately tell them to forget about it, stop being so nervous, and just have fun. Usually, taking pressure off of themselves instead of putting more on is what helps them gain their stride back. Even though professionals should take their career seriously, they should always remember to simply enjoy themselves.

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Featured photo credit: Racquetball Player Ball Dive Hit Return Play/skeeze via pixabay.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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